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Providing Assessments, Rehabilitation,
Tendon management and Enhancing
Overall Performance

Assessment

Your appointment may be at one of our satellite clinic locations or at your own yard. Please read the following notes for guidance before your first Physiotherapy appointment.

The approximate duration of the first appointment will be between one and one and a half hours. The horse will need to be held by their owner or a competent handler nominated by the owner. It is important that your horse is clean and dry and their tack may need to be seen.

Depending on the nature of the problem it may be necessary to see your horse being ridden by their usual rider or put in work as well as for an assessment to be carried out on the usual rider (the horse and rider functions as one unit, an imbalance in one can affect the other).

The equine physiotherapists at ETRC work as part of a multi-disciplinary team and will refer your horse to another professional if deemed necessary after the assessment.

Rehabilitation

ETRC's equine physiotherapists assess your horse's movement. If an abnormality is seen that is consistent with an imbalance in the horse's musculoskeletal system then a treatment regimen will be constructed aiming to reverse and re-train these detrimental effects. This might be done through strengthening, stretching, mobilising the musculoskeletal system where needed as well as addressing the horses proprioception and re-educating their movement patterns. Electrotherapy can be used in conjunction to 'hands-on' treatment to manage swelling, pain and muscle weakness.

Tendon Management

Tendon injury is one of the most common causes of wastage in the performance horse, the majority of tendon injuries occur to the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), sometimes referred to as 'bowed tendons'. ERTC use a combination of eccentric exercises and manual techniques adapted from human medicine to treat tendon injuries by encouraging a better repair. The equine physiotherapist examines the cause of why the tendon became overloaded, ie, work load, conformation or muscle imbalances, and addresses the relevant issues to limit the chance of recurrence. The progress of the tendon can be assessed using ultrasonography.

Performance Enhancement

Performance issues are not always straight forward to spot or differentiate from behavioural issues. Below is a list of common complaints that can be rectified with physiotherapy;

• Lack of suppleness • Inability to maintain a good outline
• Temperament changes • Inconsistency
• Poor propulsion • Stiffness and problems loosening up
• One sidedness • Crabbing / quarter in
• Leaning on the hand • Poll tilt
• Tail to one side • Inequality of one rein to the other
• Always favouring one canter lead  

Quick Checks

If you horse has received rehabilitation or treatment from ETRC it is a good idea to have him followed up over the passing months just to ensure nothing is developing again. For all working horses a pre- and post- season check is advisable as well as if you are planning a considerable change to his exercise regimen.

Box Rest Management

Muscles, tendons and bone adapt to the amount of stimulus they received, e.g. for bones, a decrease in mechanical stimulus (ie, loading) leads to a decrease in bone mass and vice versa. When your horse is placed on strict box rest for a length of time, we recommend one of the ERTC equine physiotherapists develop a tailored box rest programme to maintain as much as possible the muscle, tendon and bone tissue. This will be done alongside your vets management programme.

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